Identifying Customer Opinion Leaders and Getting Them to Spread the Word


ROCKVILLE, Md.—What type of advertising is better than word-of-mouth advertising? Enthusiastic word-of-mouth advertising. What's better than enthusiastic word-of-mouth advertising? FREE enthusiastic word-of-mouth advertising. This is why it is so important to have a system in place to identify and track those customers who potentially could be a megaphone for your practice — those customers who are likely to sing your praises to others, between friends, among family, on social media and the internet in general. We call these customers "Customer Opinion Leaders", or "COLs". Do you know who your "COLs" are?

Having word-of-mouth COLs is important, but it's more important that you have a strategy in place to get those COLs to share their enthusiasm. While one COL will share their positive experience with two to 10 friends or family members, when they post their excitement on Facebook or another social network, your brand gets positive exposure to hundreds, perhaps thousands of potential customers. Getting in front of the "friends-of-friends" of your COLs is described by marketing experts as a key social media marketing strategy.

How your customer talks about you online is largely influenced not only by their experience in your office, but your ability to encourage them to get involved in an online conversation about your brand. Identifying your COLs is easy; encourage your staff to write down the names of patients who seemed enthusiastic about their experience. Getting the COLs to talk about you on social media is a different story. We actively encourage patients to review our practice in Google, because it's important that when people find us on Google, they see that we are not a tree in a forest; that there are other people besides "us" posting positive things about us. We also use patient communication software Demandforce, which sends patients a "thank you" by email and encourages them to review their experience and post a review online.

We take the time to create helpful information in the form of blog posts and videos and share them on our Facebook page. In order to encourage people to "share" items that promote our brand, the great content we create greatly increases the likelihood of our brand being shared, drawing people towards our content, links and ultimately, social media pages and website. The most enthusiastic of your COLs are those who refer friends or family. We send hand-written thank you notes with $5 Starbucks cards for those who refer, and include the following business card within the communication. The odds that these people will talk about us on social media, if nudged, are much greater than the average happy patient.

Front and Back of Business Card We Use to Encourage Patients to Review Us Online

Think about who is talking about you and who you want talking about you, keep lists, nudge them, engage them online and encourage them to tell friends and family at multiple contact points during their visit to your business and you'll find these customer "megaphones" will drive high quality business through your doors like no other method can.


Alan N. Glazier, OD, FAAO is the founder/CEO of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care in Rockville, Md. A search and social optimization consultant, he is a regular contributor to CLICK and also writes a regular blog for A founder of ODs on Facebook, Glazier is also a VM/ROB Optometric Business Innovator. Glazier is at and his regular posts can be found via his Twitter handle: @EyeInfo, his blog: and his website: He’s the founder and moderator of ODs on Facebook. Author: Searchial Marketing: How Social Media Drives Search Optimization in Web 3.0.

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